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Gene Ther. 2013 Feb;20(2):121-7. doi: 10.1038/gt.2012.2. Epub 2012 Feb 9.

Zinc finger nucleases: looking toward translation.

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Department of Pathology, Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


Genetic engineering has emerged as a powerful mechanism for understanding biological systems and a potential approach for redressing congenital disease. Alongside, the emergence of these technologies in recent decades has risen the complementary analysis of the ethical implications of genetic engineering techniques and applications. Although viral-mediated approaches have dominated initial efforts in gene transfer (GT) methods, an emerging technology involving engineered restriction enzymes known as zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) has become a powerful new methodology for gene editing. Given the advantages provided by ZFNs for more specific and diverse approaches in gene editing for basic science and clinical applications, we discuss how ZFN research can address some of the ethical and scientific questions that have been posed for other GT techniques. This is of particular importance, given the momentum currently behind ZFNs in moving into phase I clinical trials. This study provides a historical account of the origins of ZFN technology, an analysis of current techniques and applications, and an examination of the ethical issues applicable to translational ZFN genetic engineering in early phase clinical trials.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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